Indiana Work Permit Rules

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The Indiana Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Child Labor eliminated work permits for minor employees under 18 years of age on July 1, 2021. All employers with five or more minor employees are required to use the DOL’s Youth Employment System (YES) to track and report information about minor employees.

An employer who hires four or fewer minor employees is not required to use the YES registry. The YES registry became available to employers on June 1, 2021.

Penalties for Not Using YES

Penalties for failing to use YES, or failing to use it correctly, began on July 1, 2021. An employer who does not use the YES system to register a minor employee, to remove a minor from the system once the minor is terminated, or to correct the number of minors employed will be fined.

Fines range from $100 to $400, depending on the infraction. The fines are per infraction and employee. An individual who is reporting a violation should now file a complaint with DOL rather than with the Indiana Department of Education.

How to Access YES

YES is a software app that an employer accesses via desktop or laptop computer or on a smart device like a smartphone or tablet. The employer needs to set up an employer profile and then enter the names, ages and hire dates of their minor employees.

The YES system does not impact Indiana’s work-hour requirements for minors. All employers are still required to comply with the teen work-hour restrictions, and prohibited and hazardous occupation restrictions for minors.

Schools and YES

With the new law, employers no longer have to get a work permit for a minor employee through the minor’s school. Schools are no longer responsible for tracking and reporting minor employee data to the DOL.

Schools may use YES to determine which employers are hiring minor employees, and they can request public information from the system that pertains to their students. This allows schools to work with employers to ensure that a student’s job and academic performance are satisfactory throughout the school year.

Teen Work Hours

An employer of minor employees who are 14, 15, 16 or 17 must post the maximum number of hours that these minors can be employed or allowed to work each day of the week. The information must be posted in a conspicuous place or where notices are usually posted, like a break room. DOL can provide copies of such a notice.

Minor employees ages 14 and 15 are restricted to:

  • 3 hours work per school day.
  • 8 hours work per non-school day.
  • 18 hours work per school week.
  • 40 hours work per non-school week.
  • Work no earlier than 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., except they may work until 9:00 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day.

Minor employees age 16 are restricted to:

  • 8 hours work per school day.
  • 9 hours work per day not followed by a school day*
  • 30 hours work per week.
  • 40 hours work per school week*
  • 48 hours work per non-school week*
  • No more than six working days per week.
  • No work before 6 a.m.
  • No work after 10 p.m. on nights followed by a school day.
  • No work after 12 a.m. on nights not followed by a school day*

Minor employees age 17 are restricted to:

  • 8 hours work per day.
  • 9 hours work per days not followed by a school day*
  • 30 hours work per week.
  • 40 hours work per school week*
  • 48 hours work per non-school week*
  • No more than six working days per week.
  • No work before 6 a.m. on school days.
  • No work after 10 p.m. on nights followed by a school day.
  • No work after 11:30 p.m. on nights not followed by a school day.
  • No work past 1:00 a.m. on nights followed by a school day, but not on consecutive nights and not more than two school nights per week*

Note: Restrictions with an asterisk indicate that the dispensation requires written parental permission on file with the employer at the location where the minor is employed.

Teen Break Laws

The state of Indiana has a teen break law. A worker under the age of 18 must receive one or two breaks totaling 30 minutes when they are scheduled to work six or more consecutive hours. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may not be employed or permitted to work on a school day after 7:30 a.m. and before 3:30 p.m. unless the employer has on file a written exception issued by the school the minor attends.

Rules for Teens Not in School

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds who withdrew or graduated from high school are not subject to these hour restrictions. A worker under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a coworker at least 18 years of age if they work after 10 p.m. and before 6 a.m. in an establishment open to the public.

Prohibited and Hazardous Occupation Restrictions

The child labor provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) restrict minors from working in certain prohibited and hazardous occupations. The Indiana Bureau of Youth Employment enforces the prohibited and hazardous occupations as identified by the U.S. Department of Labor.

A partial list of prohibited non-agricultural occupations for 14- and 15-year-olds includes:

  • Cooking and baking.
  • Working in freezers or meat coolers.
  • Maintaining a building, machines or equipment.
  • Operating a motor vehicle.
  • Transporting people or goods.
  • Warehousing and storage.
  • Advertising by holding signs, waving banners or wearing costumes.
  • Construction, demolition and repairs.

Exemptions From Prohibited Occupations

There are exemptions from prohibited occupations. For example, if a minor is exempt by statute or judicial order from attending school beyond the 8th grade, they may work inside and outside of places of business where machinery is used to process wood products.

The minor’s on-the-job activities must be directed by a parent, legal guardian, grandparent, sibling, uncle, aunt or member of the same religious sect who is at least 18. The supervision must be close, direct, constant and uninterrupted.

A partial list of the non-agricultural hazardous occupations for 16- and 17-year-olds includes:

  • Forest firefighting and forest fire prevention.
  • Operation of bakery machines.
  • Excavation operations.
  • Wrecking, demolition and ship breaking operations.
  • Roofing operations near or on a roof.

Certain occupations allow exemptions for apprentices or student learners who are 16 or 17 to perform duties or operate machinery that is otherwise deemed hazardous. These include occupations involved in the operation of power-driven woodworking machines and the operation of balers, compactors and paper products.

Exemptions for Apprentices

There are also exemptions for apprentices, but these only apply if the apprentice is employed in a craft recognized as an apprenticeable trade. The work of the apprentice in an occupation declared particularly hazardous must be incidental to their training. The work must be intermittent, done for short periods of time and under the supervision of a journeyman.

Penalties for FLSA Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division enforces the FLSA, including the child labor laws under the act. When an employer violates child labor laws, the investigators may recommend changes to bring the employer into compliance. A willful violation of these laws can be prosecuted criminally. The violator will be fined up to $10,000 per each employee who was the subject of a violation.

A second conviction may result in imprisonment. The FLSA prohibits the shipment of goods in interstate commerce that were produced in violation of child labor laws. When there is a discrepancy between federal and state standards regarding child labor, the rule that provides the most protection to young workers applies.

COVID-19 and FLSA Rules

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred the U.S. Department of Labor to offer specific guidance regarding the protection of minor employees. If a school is closed for in-person learning because of a COVID-19 outbreak, the school is considered to be in session during any week that the public school district where the child lives requires its students to attend school, either physically or through virtual or distance learning.

If a public school district physically closes schools due to COVID-19, but requires students to continue instruction through virtual or distance learning for one day or part of one day, then school is considered to be in session in that district during that day and week. If the school is physically closed, and the district does not require virtual or distance learning, the school is not considered to be in session.

If a minor child’s school is closed, and a parent must bring the child with them to their place of work, the FLSA does not place any restrictions on the parent’s employer. The exception is if the child is performing work for the parent’s employer. If this is the case, the child is considered to be an employee and is subject to FLSA rules.

Children Assisting Parents at Work

If the child assists the parent at work, they are likely to be considered to be an employee. If the employer knows or has reason to believe the child is performing work, the time must be counted as hours worked. The employer must pay the minor at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour unless certain exemptions apply.

Workplace Policies Regarding Minor Employees

Workplaces may develop unique internal rules regarding their treatment of minor employees. For example, Indiana University (IU) has developed policies that apply to staff and temporary employees who are minors over the age of 14 and under the age of 18. These rules do not apply to minors who have graduated from high school or a high school equivalency program or who have been legally emancipated.

IU requires that a unit that hires a minor age 14 or 15 must obtain approval from the appropriate vice-president, chancellor or provost. A minor under the age of 18 may not be permitted to work in a position that requires driving a university vehicle or driving on university business.

A unit must list minor employees in the YES registry with IU’s account and campus location. A direct supervisor and anyone working on one-to-one with a minor under 18 must have been subject to a background check within the last five years. Managers, supervisors and employees who violate IU’s policies are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Prior Indiana Laws for Minor Employees

Prior to 2021, Indiana’s system for keeping track of minor employees involved K-12 school districts issuing work permits for students. The employer obtained the work permit from the school district in the area that the employer was located.

The school district where the employer was located was not always the district where the minor went to school. One of the main reasons for the change was that Indiana employers found the previous system to be slow and inefficient.

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